It's quite amazing, the stature that the legal profession in Scotland hold's itself in ... and not content with wallowing in such honour, the lawyers want to ensure that we, the public, will bow to it's glory - such are the words I read in the Scotsman 'newspaper' on Tuesday.
Oh .. only the words of one then perhaps ? .. not likely .. more like part of a concerted plan of action by the legal profession to get rid of the forthcoming reforms of independent regulation in the LPLA Bill .. and lull the public into a belief that all is well in the ranks of Scotlands crooked legal profession.
As far as the figures show - in terms of complaints, money and property looted from clients (both private AND corporate) - Scotland is about the best small country in the world for it's lawyers ripping off their clients - and actually, that isn't just myth .. I recently asked for some views of the Scottish legal profession while travelling outside Scotland and the responses ranged from 'crooks' to 'perverts' to 'criminals' and much worse ... so, the world certainly isn't ignorant to what is going on in the Scottish legal profession.
Take for instance a good friend of mine in the US, he is a lawyer, and was at a conference where there were some members of Scotland's hallowed legal profession in attendence - dare I say, married members (without their wives present of course). After the conference, these lawyers from Scotland - whom some want to teach us to respect, started asking for "young boys" .. for things I find myself unable to write about.
The behaviour of our travelling Scottish lawyers prompted my friend to have a bit of a laugh, and ask - "are there any real men left in Scotland ?" ... I answered - well, yes - but not many of them are lawyers ... and well, I wondered how these gentlemen's wives & families would feel about their behaviour ? would they have a 'right to know' ? .. perhaps, but probably via the press.
Anyway, back to the point .... the legal profession want us to respect them, and leave them to cover up for their behaviour - which ranges from ripping off clients, to ordering the deaths of colleagues (and clients) ...to snorting cocaine & supplying it to criminals inside jail, etc.
Should we really respect such people ? Has the world turned upside down so much these days that we have to give regard to such behaviour ? I say NO.
The article in the Scotsman 'newspaper' suggests that the 'virtues' of an independent legal profession be taught in Schools ! ... amazing ... so our children should be taught how great the Law Society of Scotland is, how it has gloriously self-regulated the legal profession for years .. etc ... and miss out all the bits about cover ups, scandals, embezzlement, fraud, etc by Scottish lawyers ?
To me, teaching pupils at school to respect the Scottish legal profession (at least in it's current form) sounds more like heroin dealers handing out free drugs to schoolchildren at the school gates to get them hooked so they come back for more.
It's quite an appalling idea - but consistent with a struggling but powerful section of public life grasping at any means to save itself .. from the likes of the forthcoming LPLA Bill ... something very dear to my own campaign, of course.
As far as 'Education' goes .. I think the public are becoming wise to the systemic criminality & corruption of Scotland's legal profession.
Brave campaigners, such as myself, and protest groups such as "Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers" have seen to that ... and while some in the media might disparage the likes of SACL .. the fact is that since the group began their protests outside the Scottish Parliament, the offices of the Law Society of Scotland, and Royal & Sun Alliance PLC ... we have certainly advanced forward in terms of drawing the public's attention to what has really been going in Scotlands hallowed legal profession ... something very far from honesty and respect .. which the likes of those from the legal profession who disguise themselves as journalists in national newspapers would have us believe.
The following article, from Tuesday's Scotsman 'newspaper' makes for interesting reading - in it's representation of widely held views in the legal profession senior ranks, but perhaps the headline should have read "We must review, properly compensate, and fully apologise for our sins of the past" - if they wanted to do the decent thing .. which of course, they don't.
Prepare yourselves for a very unrepentive article, targeted directly against the interests of the client - and certainly against those of us who have exposed the many wrongdoings of the legal profession. Certainly no feeling of apologising for the sins of the past here .. or putting right the wrongs which have been done to many to protect crooked colleagues.
As for the proposition of an action plan for the legal profession .... well, they already have one - it's called "ruin everyone to save ourselves - and loot as much as you can in the process" although with the ideas of educating our young to respect embezzlers & crooks, it sounds more like a version of Communism, complete with 'young pioneers societies' ...and we all know where that led, don't we.
Haven't we lived under the reign of crooked lawyers for long enough ?
I say, time for a change - a change for the better .. a change for honesty and transparency .. where the client has the right not to get looted at the hands of the dishonest Scottish legal profession.
We must educate, talk and organise
WHILE some of my fellow columnists have corresponded from exotic locations recently, a few days in the Western Isles has reminded me that, in weather such as we have enjoyed recently, this really might be the most beautiful small country in the world. That got me thinking about our legal system in the context of the First Minister's proposition that we are, or can be, the best small country in the world.
Over generations, Scots law and Scottish lawyers have been held in high regard, often punching above its and their collective weight. The Scots and their lawyers have a reputation for integrity, trust and competence that is a very valuable commodity. But rather than capitalising on that in the global marketplace for legal services, it seems that, rather as often happens to the Scottish landscape, the mist has descended. Such strengths are often obscured by a mixture of hot air and cold fronts. Typically Scottish, perhaps.
There appears to be increasing tension among the stakeholders in the legal system and its institutions, with regular controversy. Examples include: procedures for making complaints against lawyers; reform of judicial appointments and integration of the court system; and criminal legal aid payments.
I wonder if it goes too far to suggest there is some suspicion, distrust and lack of understanding involving various players: policy makers in the Scottish Executive; MSPs in the Parliament; professional bodies; the judiciary; the Scottish Legal Aid Board; and the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman. Within these groupings, there are diverse views.
But, overall, one's impression is things are not quite as they should be and, as a result - rather than working together to reinforce the impact the Scottish legal system might have in the wider world - the stakeholders' energies are often spent in a cycle of internal criticism and justification. How could this be changed?
• Education: There will always be difficulty if people do not know about the core principles and values of the legal system and its institutions. How many of us really understand what is meant by judicial independence, or the value of an independent legal profession? To what extent could these be covered in schools? And how many of our MSPs and civil servants have a good understanding of these? Learning, as part of enhancing a sense of civic responsibility, may be a good starting point.
• Dialogue: I suspect some in the legal profession have been rather lukewarm towards the Parliament. Over a number of years, there may have been a sense of detachment from, rather than involvement with, the legislators. How often have key figures sat down and talked openly about the real issues and, without having to justify or criticise, simply sought to explain what they are trying to do and why?
How often have they listened to the points of view and genuinely held concerns of others who have an interest? Engagement is essential, both ways.
• Roles: Who should be in charge of policy-making? Who controls the purse-strings? Who makes decisions about resources? What benchmarks are set for professional (and legislative) performance? How do we measure value for money? There is scope for a frank reassessment.
I venture to suggest that if we wish to have an outward-looking, confident system of law which represents fully the interests of the Scottish people, then the lawyers, politicians, judges and civil servants need to work together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Perhaps we need an action plan to achieve this
This article: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1076152006
Last updated: 24-Jul-06 00:58 BST